the starfish and the spider

November 29, 2007

I’ve spent most of my time in the car the last few weeks listening my way through an Audible version of The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman & Rod Beckstrom. From my experience, I have found that audio books are a worthwhile replacement for print books, but this is one that I think my audio experience was inadequate because there are a number of ideas I would want to revisit and dwell on.

The premise of the book is that there are two types of organizations represented by starfish or spiders. Though both creatures might be similar in shape, they are significantly different. Spiders, and thus spider organizations, are centralized in their command structure. All direction radiates from the head in the center. Starfish are decentralized, but are comprised of five legs that operate seemingly independent of each other.

Brafman and Beckstrom write from the perspective of extolling the virtures of a decentralized organization, and as they describe it, I see many benefits as well. Ultimately, however, they end up emphasizing a hybrid form that contains elements both of centralization and decentralization. With a church plant sitting on my horizon and steadily drawing closer, there is much in this book that I want to revisit in the process of shaping how the church might function. And so, for the first time, a book that arrived in my library in audio form will need to be added in print as well. (Ahem…Christmas idea!)

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